Jason Shelton


The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America was signed 243 years ago which sparked the Revolutionary War – our battle for independence. After securing independence, our fledgling nation operated under the Articles of Confederation until we ratified our nation’s Constitution March 4, 1789.

This powerful, living document created the best system of governance that the world has ever known and remains the basis for our government today. Though we are still a young nation, we are the world’s oldest democracy and continue to maintain a quality of life that makes us the envy of the world.

Our nation’s freedom and quality of life, however, are not guaranteed. In today’s hyper-partisan climate, where we have leaders who are intentionally divisive, we must maintain our vigilance to protecting the nation that we all love and cherish.

The United States of America is still the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth. It is our job, collectively, to ensure that we remain as such.

Here in the All-America City, our friends and neighbors gather together to celebrate our freedoms with cookouts and, in some neighborhoods, with parades of walkers, bicyclers, folks on lawnmowers, and in golf carts as well as their vehicles, many decorated with flags and red, white and blue bunting. Others gather along the parade routes, waving miniature flags while cheering their neighbors.

Others, some from beyond our city and state, gather in Tupelo’s Veterans Memorial Park to spend a quiet moment of meditation and prayer in the remembrance section of the park’s garden or at the replica of the Vietnam War Memorial. Some are veterans, honoring their brothers and sisters in arms. Others are those of us grateful for the sacrifices of many and the continued service of those in the armed forces who protect our freedoms.

And in the evening, many of us go to Ballard Park, enjoying that freedom to assemble we are guaranteed – each person able to enjoy the company of others, the good entertainment, and the fireworks. It strikes me during the fireworks show, those words from Katherine Lee Bates:

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee;

And crown thy good

With brotherhood,

From sea to shining sea.

JASON SHELTON is mayor of the city of Tupelo.

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